Marvin's Room

by Scott McPherson
Directed by Jim Petsche
Stage Manager Carolyn Jakubczak

Production Kickoff: November 12, 2023

Audition: November 19, 2023

Performance Dates

Feb. 2, 3, 9, 10, 16, & 17, 2024 at 8:00PM
Feb. 11 & 18, 2024 at 2:00PM

Unless specifically noted, all roles are open to all regardless of race or ethnicity.

Character Notes

  • Character ages are approximate.
  • The same actor will play Dr. Charlotte and Retirement Home Director.
  • The same actor will play Bob and Marvin.

  • Bessie – (early 40s) Bessie is from Ohio, but she moved to Florida to take care of her father, Marvin, after he had a stroke. She also looks after her aunt, Ruth, who is crippled after sustaining a back injury. She has dedicated most of her adult life to looking after them and does not get any support from her sister, Lee. Bessie and Lee are not close, but Bessie is forced to contact her sister when she is diagnosed with leukemia and needs a bone marrow donation.
  • Lee – (early 40s) Lee is Bessie's sister. She has not kept in touch with her family and lives miles away from them in Ohio. Lee has two sons, Hank and Charlie. She does not know how to deal with Hank when he rebels against her, and the pair have a fragile relationship. Although Lee and Bessie have not always gotten along, Lee agrees to come to Florida and be tested to see if she can donate bone marrow to her sister, who has leukemia.
  • Ruth – (plays 70) Ruth lives with her brother, Marvin, and his daughter, Bessie. She has three collapsed vertebrae and has electrodes wired up to her brain to help ease the pain. She is cared for by Bessie and, frequently forgetful, is of little help to help Bessie when she needs it. Ruth is obsessed with her favorite soap opera.
  • Hank – (plays 17) is Lee's son and Charlie's brother. After burning down the family house, he ended up in a mental institution in Ohio. Lee rarely visits him, and he has a frail, odd relationship with her. He is allowed out of the institution to come and visit his Aunt Bessie, who has leukemia. He enjoys testing other people's patience and it is not clear when he is lying or when he is telling the truth. Hank is good with tools and enjoys fixing things.
  • Dr. Wally – One of the doctors at the medical center Bessie comes to, and to which she brings her father, Marvin, and her aunt, Ruth, for treatment. He has a particularly bad memory and frequently can't remember words or names. He is awkward around Bessie and his communication skills are poor.
  • Charlie – (plays early teens) is Lee's youngest son and Hank's brother. He loves reading and takes books everywhere he goes. However, he is doing poorly at school and does not concentrate. Charlie does not have a loving relationship with his mother and does not see much of Hank as he is in a mental institution.
  • Doctor Charlotte – Hank's psychiatrist at the mental institution in Ohio. She is a stereotypical therapist, encouraging Lee to analyze her relationship with Hank, despite Lee's lack of concern.
  • Retirement Home Director – Appears briefly in the play when Lee tries to convince her sister, Bessie, that their father and aunt would be better off in a retirement home.
  • Bob – Doctor Wally's brother. Doctor Wally takes him on as an interim receptionist after his current one resigns. Bob does not understand the requirements of the job.
  • Marvin – Marvin features heavily in the play but is never fully seen. He is a shadowy presence in the back room. He has suffered several strokes, has cancer, and is bed-bound. He has lost the power of speech but communicates through noises. He enjoys watching the light from Ruth's compact mirror bouncing off the walls of his bedroom.

Lee and Bessie could not be more different and, though sisters, have not seen each other for almost two decades. During that time Lee has been raising two challenging boys on her own. Bessie has been caring for their father, along with his dotty soap opera-obsessed sister. Now the two sisters are thrown together as Bessie has just been diagnosed with leukemia and needs a bone marrow transplant. McPherson's poignant play is about the laughter that can shine through life's darkest moments. Marvin's Room is real, hopeful, compassionate, and absurdly funny.

Marvin's Room is set in various locations (including a home, medical office, and Disney World) in Florida and a youth residential treatment institution in Ohio. The play has a contemporary setting, which was 1990 at play's premiere.

Jim Petsche is a veteran Curtain Player, a recipient of one of the group's highest honors, the Richard D. Near Award. A former president and vice president of the community theatre company, Jim directed Fireflies, The Trip to Bountiful, The Outgoing Tide, and The Dining Room at the Harlem Road playhouse. He acted in Curtain stagings of The Diary of Anne Frank, Dinner with Friends, The Boys Next Door, and To Gillian on Her 37th Birthday, among others. Jim's other Central Ohio acting credits include I Hate Hamlet! and Art with Columbus Civic Theatre, and The Laramie Project with Little Theatre Off Broadway. He has also directed for short play festivals produced by Theatre Daedalus. Jim has received Theatre Roundtable and regional Ohio Community Theatre Association awards for his performances.


  • Production Kickoff: Sunday, November 12, 2023, 6:30 pm
  • Audition: Sunday, November 19, 2023


Production Kickoff, auditions, and performances take place at:
Curtain Players Theatre
5691 Harlem Road, Galena, OH 43021

Curtain Players offers an information session for each of its productions as a help for actors seeking roles, but attendance is not required to audition. The event is an opportunity for actors to become acquainted with the community theatre organization, to discuss the play with the director, and to ask questions about the audition process, rehearsal period, and production plans. Those interested in working behind the scenes are also invited to attend.

Curtain Players conducts open auditions for its productions. Roles are not cast in advance, and, unless specified otherwise in the role's description, are open to all without regard to race or ethnicity. Casting decisions are made by the director and a casting committee comprised of a member of the theatre board, a general member of the organization, and individuals of the director's choosing.

Actors are advised to be familiar with the play and, if possible, take advantage of the production kickoff although it is not a prerequisite for auditioning. At the audition, actors will read from the script. The cuttings used will be made available at the production kickoff or upon request by emailing production director Jim Petsche. Everyone at the audition will have opportunity to read at least twice. There will be no callbacks. Actors will notified of casting within 48 hours of the audition.

Requests for an early audition for Marvin's Room must be made no later than November 05, 2023.

Questions related to the audition process may be directed to

Rehearsals will begin in late November beginning with read-throughs, character work, and blocking. Actors can expect to rehearse as much as three to four times a week. The director will set a detailed schedule taking into accommodation actors' availabilities and conflicts, rehearsal space availability, and the holiday season. Actors must be available all day Tech Day January 28, and every night that week for nightly dress rehearsals and a preview performance. Opening night is Friday February 2.
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